Martin Booth

Emperor’s New Clothes

Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

By

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When I was a boy growing up in China in the years after the Second World War, I knew a young Chinese man who had fought as a partisan against the Japanese occupying forces in Hong Kong. Not surprisingly, he was vehemently anti–Japanese. Furthermore, he was utterly convinced that the Japanese army had been personally led by Emperor Hirohito, who, he claimed, had specifically ordered the infamous Rape of Nanking. I admired this young man – he was one of my childhood heroes – and I still do, but history lessons at school later told me, with equal conviction, that Hirohito had been a pacifist pawn, manipulated by right–wing and militarist factions in pre–war Japan. However, it now seems that my friend’s hunch was right and my history teacher’s spectacularly wrong.

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